Dogs on ‘a trail of death’
Scent of a corpse is followed from flat to the beach
SNIFFER dogs have detected a trail of death leading from the holiday apartment where Madeleine McCann disappeared down to the beach at Praia da Luz, Portuguese police believe.
The springer spaniels, brought in from South Yorkshire police to assist the Portuguese investigation, are thought to have found the scent of a corpse stretching for a mile down to the shore.
The same scent was detected on clothes belonging to Kate McCann, in the boot of the family’s hired Renault Scenic and on the key fob of the car, rented 25 days after Madeleine vanished.
The dogs also found the same scent in the living room, bedroom and a wardrobe or closet in the apartment at the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz, where bloodstains were also found.
Other items also registered the scent of a corpse, including the Cuddle Cat soft toy which was Madeleine’s favourite and is now carried everywhere by her mother.
Portuguese officers are now expected to begin searching likely locations along the trail that leads from the Ocean Club, past the local supermarket and pharmacy, down to the tiny church and on to a small side beach by an old fort.
Investigators believe Madeleine died as a result of an accident but that her death was concealed and her body hidden before being moved in the McCanns’ hire car.
Her parents, part-time family doctor Kate and consultant cardiologist Gerry, both 39, are officially formal suspects.
They vehemently deny having any involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine and have repeatedly stressed that there is no concrete evidence to show that their daughter – whom they believe has been abducted – is now dead.
However, the Portuguese police have compiled a dossier based largely on forensic results showing how Madeleine’s DNA and hair were found in the boot of the family’s hire car.
The scent trail detected by sniffer dogs Eddie and Keela is thought to provide a further line of investigation for detectives.
The dogs can detect decomposing human remains and human blood even after items have been cleaned and washed many times.
It appears that Keela located tiny traces of blood in the McCanns’ apartment, despite alleged attempts to wash them off. It is said that Eddie allegedly picked up the scent of a corpse in the
McCanns’ flat, in the road outside and on Kate’s Bible and clothes.
The dogs have previously travelled around Britain and been sent to Ireland and America to help in murder and missing persons cases.
In Madeleine’s case, preliminary test results sent from the British Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham found significant DNA evidence. This is said to include traces of Madeleine’s blood found by the dogs in the McCanns’ flat and in their hire car, which prompted detectives to focus on the parents.
Most of the forensic material was only collected at the end of July and early August in a review of the case by Portuguese detectives with the help of British officers and the dogs.
Kate and Gerry were shown a police video of a sniffer dog used to find corpses “going crazy” when it approached their Renault Scenic.
When told that the scent was also found on the key fob, Kate is reported to have said that, in her work as a locum GP, she came into contact with six corpses in the weeks before the holiday.
Experts say the crucial difficulty with sniffer dog “evidence” is that it cannot distinguish between corpses.
This type of dog is trained to find bodies, not identify where bodies have been.